Best Brush For Polyurethane?

Nylon or polyester brushes? Lets take a look at the best brush for water-based and oil-based polyurethane.

Can you Use A Nylon Brush for Polyurethane?

Yes, you can use a nylon brush for polyurethane. Nylon brushes are made from high-quality nylon fibers that will not damage the finish of your wood. For that Polyurethane is water-based.

Nylon brushes are ideal for applying polyurethane because they will not leave behind any bristles in the finish and they are easy to clean.

If you want to use a nylon brush for polyurethane, then here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Use high-quality brushes made from pure nylon.
  • Use disposable brushes instead of reusable ones so that you do not contaminate your new batch of water-based polyurethane with leftover bristles from previous uses.
  • Make sure that the bristles are well cleaned before applying another coat of polyurethane so that any residual material does not get mixed into the final layer of the finish.

Can I Use A Nylon Brush for Oil-based Polyurethane?

No. An oil-based polyurethane finish that dries out over time and becomes hard, brittle, and prone to cracking. This finish is also often used as a sealant that protects the wood from moisture penetration.

Most of the time, you’ll find that a bristle brush or natural bristle paintbrush works best for applying polyurethane, but not all. You can use a nylon brush for applying wax or water-based finishes but it may not be the best choice for applying oily polyurethane.

The bristles on nylon brushes are usually stiffer than those found on other types of brushes. The stiffness makes them less flexible than other brushes so they’re not ideal for applying a thick coat of polyurethane because they won’t conform well to all surfaces and contours in your project area.

In addition, nylon bristles tend to shed more than other types of bristles do so they can leave behind tiny pieces of fiber that can clog up your pores when you apply the finish.

>> See also: Will Nylon Brush Scratch Auto Paint?

Polyester brushes and Polyurethane

Yes, you can use a polyester brush with polyurethane. Polyester brushes are commonly used with various types of paints and finishes, including polyurethane. However, it’s essential to ensure that the brush is clean and free from any debris or previous paint residues that could affect the application of the polyurethane. Additionally, choose a brush appropriate for the type of polyurethane you’re using (water-based or oil-based) to achieve the best results.


While polyester brushes can be used with polyurethane, there are some potential disadvantages to consider:

  1. Stiffness: Polyester brushes tend to be stiffer compared to natural bristle brushes, which can result in brush marks or streaks in the polyurethane finish, especially if not applied carefully.

  2. Clean-up: Polyester brushes can be more challenging to clean than natural bristle brushes, particularly if you’re using oil-based polyurethane. It may require more effort and specialized solvents to remove the polyurethane from the brush effectively.

  3. Shedding: Some lower-quality polyester brushes may shed bristles during use, which can be particularly problematic when applying polyurethane, as stray bristles can become embedded in the finish.

  4. Smoothness: Achieving a perfectly smooth finish with a polyester brush can be more challenging compared to using a high-quality natural bristle brush or a foam applicator. The stiffness of the polyester bristles may leave behind more noticeable brush marks or texture in the polyurethane.

Despite these potential disadvantages, many people successfully use polyester brushes with polyurethane, especially for projects where the application method may not require an ultra-smooth finish or where durability and ease of use are more important considerations. However, for projects where achieving a flawless finish is crucial, you may want to consider experimenting with different brush types or application techniques to find the best option for your needs.

Synthetic bristle brush and polyurethane

Using a synthetic bristle brush with polyurethane can be a suitable choice, especially for water-based polyurethane finishes. Here are some advantages and considerations:


  1. Compatibility: Synthetic bristle brushes are typically designed to work well with water-based coatings like water-based polyurethane. They can also be suitable for oil-based polyurethane, although natural bristle brushes are more commonly recommended for oil-based finishes.

  2. Easy cleanup: Synthetic bristle brushes are easier to clean compared to natural bristle brushes. They can typically be cleaned with soap and water, making them convenient for water-based polyurethane applications.

  3. Durability: Synthetic bristle brushes are generally more durable than natural bristle brushes and can withstand the harsh chemicals found in some polyurethane formulations.


  1. Brush marks: Synthetic bristle brushes may leave brush marks or streaks in the polyurethane finish, particularly if not applied carefully. However, choosing a high-quality synthetic brush and applying the polyurethane in thin, even coats can help minimize this issue.

  2. Texture: Achieving a perfectly smooth finish with a synthetic bristle brush can be more challenging compared to using a foam applicator or sprayer. However, sanding between coats and applying multiple thin coats of polyurethane can help achieve a smoother finish.

  3. Shedding: Lower-quality synthetic brushes may shed bristles during use, which can be problematic when applying polyurethane. It’s essential to choose a brush with securely fastened bristles to minimize this issue.

Overall, synthetic bristle brushes can be a suitable option for applying polyurethane, particularly for water-based formulations. However, it’s essential to choose a high-quality brush and apply the polyurethane carefully to achieve the best results.


Best brush for Polyurethane?

The best brush for polyurethane is a synthetic bristle brush. The reason for this is that the synthetic bristles are dense and hold up well against the chemicals in the paint. The natural bristles on brushes tend to fall out, but with a synthetic bristle brush, you’ll get lots of use before it needs replacing.

However, nylon, polyester, or a combination of the two are commonly used to make synthetic bristles. Nylon brushes are the most common type, but they can be expensive and may not hold up as well as polyester brushes over time. Polyester is more durable than nylon and has a stiffer feel to it.


Best brush for oil based polyurethane

The best brush for applying oil-based polyurethane is typically a high-quality natural bristle brush. Look for a brush made from materials like China bristle or hog hair, which are known for their ability to hold and evenly distribute oil-based finishes. A brand like Purdy or Wooster offers excellent options specifically designed for oil-based polyurethane application. Choose a brush size and shape that suits your project, ensuring good coverage and control. Remember to clean the brush thoroughly with the appropriate solvent after use to maintain its quality for future applications.

Best brush for water based polyurethane

When it comes to choosing between nylon, polyester, or other synthetic brushes for water-based polyurethane, both nylon and polyester brushes are excellent choices. Here’s a breakdown of their characteristics to help you decide:

  1. Nylon Brushes:

    • Nylon brushes are durable and maintain their shape well, making them suitable for various painting projects.
    • They have good water retention properties, allowing for smooth application of water-based polyurethane without excessive dripping.
    • Nylon brushes tend to have softer bristles, which can result in a smoother finish and fewer brush marks.
    • They are generally more affordable than some other synthetic brush options.
  2. Polyester Brushes:

    • Polyester brushes are also durable and resilient, making them suitable for multiple uses.
    • They have excellent stiffness, providing good control and precision during application.
    • Polyester brushes tend to hold their shape well, even with prolonged use, ensuring consistent results.
    • They are resistant to abrasion and chemicals, making them suitable for use with water-based polyurethane and other coatings.

Ultimately, both nylon and polyester brushes are capable of delivering smooth and even application of water-based polyurethane. The choice between them may come down to personal preference, availability, and budget. Some painters may prefer the softer feel of nylon brushes, while others may appreciate the stiffer bristles of polyester brushes for more precise control. Whichever option you choose, be sure to select a high-quality brush specifically labeled for use with water-based finishes to achieve the best results.



In short, Yes! you can use a nylon brush for water-based polyurethane, and No! you can not use a nylon brush for oil-based polyurethane. However, if the brush isn’t saturated with poly, the poly won’t soak into the bristles and make them weak or brittle. To keep your brush in good working order, just clean it well after each use, especially if you work with either oil-based.

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